The latest from Press Pros readers, and some old regulars that we welcome back to the page…this week on early wins, high pitch counts, Jay Bruce, free Cokes at the ballpark, and, are attendance figures for baseball…rigged?
From Dave in M/C/B: I have taped all of these early-season Reds wins so would you suggest that I save them as a solace for later this season?
DAVE: I hope you did tape them and I hope you watched those four straight wins to open the season instead of watching the first three road games in Chicago and the first game in St. Louis. Ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly. We all know it is a miniscule sampling but what happened in Chicago and the first game in St. Louis is what we all expected — a bullpen that is more bull than pen. Before this season is over you are going to see more faces in that bullpen than a Where’s Waldo picture.
From Keith in Columbus: I’ve always liked Jay Bruce but wonder why he’s so determined to swing away into the face of the shift, instead of laying down a bunt and walking to first base? Have you ever asked him?
KEITH: Have you been watching him this season? He put down a lot of bunts in spring training, not very successfully, but the threat is there. And he is hitting a lot of balls to left field so far this year. Sometimes you just can’t help it when a pitcher pounds you inside, pitches that are difficult to hit the other way. Yes, it can be frustrating but I’m impressed that Bruce has made adjustments, has worked hard and the early-season results are good. But as you know, Bruce is subject long streaks — both good and bad.
From Bill in Miamisburg: First time writing to you on Press Pros. You might remember me from your Sunday column in DDN. At a recent Reds game I had a vendor tell me the worst job at the ballpark was selling soft drinks, that it was beer or nothing because the price was too high. As an incentive for younger fans and non-beer drinkers, wouldn’t it be a good idea to offer one free Coke per game?
BILL: Not a bad idea and that’s our opinion. I have no idea how much that would cost the team to give away free soft drinks to 30,000 fans. Of course, with the price of beer, the profit margin is so high that one free Coke as opposed to one beer sold probably wouldn’t cost them that much. I failed one class in college and it was Economics 101, so my opinion about financial things doesn’t mean much. Nadine won’t even let me look at our checkbook.
From Gerry: From your perspective, what are the other major league teams that are in the same position of the Reds in trying to rebuild?
That would be Atlanta, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and San Diego in the National League. MLB could do those teams, along with the Reds, a huge favor by permitting them to form their own division, the National League Least. I think I’ll keep watch on those five teams and at the end of the year publish the NL Least standings. So far, at this writing: Cincinnati 5-5, Milwaukee 5-5, Philadelphia 5-6, San Diego 3-8, Atlanta 1-9.
From Jasper in Youngstown: First time to write in a while and I still look forward to your stories. I read recently where the Astros are taking the “hill” out of their center field. How come? And why didn’t the Reds recreate the old terrace in the outfield with GABP like Crosley Field used to have? That was my fondest memory of that ballpark and there’s nothing unique like it in modern ballparks.
JASPER: Welcome back, my friend. I loved Tal’s Hill in Houston. So did the fans. But MLB considered it dangerous, especially with the flag pole at the top of it. Same with the terrace in Crosley Field. But it sure was fun watching outfielders scramble up those little hills to catch deep fly balls. And you are right. Those were special things that made those parks different. Baseball, though, is so injury-conscious these days (that’s probably a good thing) that anything out of the ordinary on the field isn’t wanted. Next thing you know they’ll make the Cubs remove the vine-covered brick wall in Wrigley Field and that’s when fans will revolt.
From Tim in Troy: I recently heard that Jim Maloney threw 200 pitches in his no-hit game against the Cubs in 1965. If that’s true, who was the manager back then? And why are they so afraid to let pitchers throw more than a hundred pitches in a game now?
TIM: Great question. I don’t think any manager in baseball can answer who came up with the magic number of 100 for pitchers. Or why? Do you recall the 1963 game involving the Milwaukee Braves and San Francisco Giants? It went 16 innings and Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal both pitched the entire 16 innings. Marichal threw 227 pitches and Spahn threw 201 pitches. As for Maloney’s no-hitter, the manager was Dick Sisler. And nobody questioned why he permitted Maloney to throw so many pitches. If he had tried to take Maloney out of that game because he threw too many pitches Sisler might have found himself prone on the dugout floor.
From Steve in Indy: The Reds AAA team used to play here in Indianapolis and it was a good relationship with Max Schumacher. I’m wondering why they ever left? And how do teams decide where to have their minor league teams play?
STEVE: Those were the good ol’ days when teams stayed put with their minor league teams. It is my understanding that Schumacher and the Reds eventually had some disagreements and parted ways. Minor League teams and their parent teams have contracts and when that contract expires if either party has a problem with the other about player development or the players supplied to the Minor League team they usually part ways and negotiate with other teams. In my time the Reds have had AAA affiliations with Indianapolis, Denver, Nashville, Wichita and Louisville. They also have had AAA teams in Syracuse, Havana, Tulsa, San Diego and Buffalo.
From JD in Tipp City: Hal, when the Reds get all the injured pitchers back and ready to play, based on talent who do you pick as your five starters and your bullpen, regardless of options?
JD: That’s a tough one, my friend. If everybody available to the Reds right now is healthy my rotation would be Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Brandon Finnegan and Robert Stephenson (if the Reds are in true rebuild mode, they need Stephenson now). The bullpen? There isn’t a guy in that ‘pen right now, healthy or now, that I have true trust in. It needs total reconstruction. I’d give Michael Lorenzen a chance to close and move J.J. Hoover back to setup, where he seems to do better. Other than that, they need to have daily auditions.
From Craig in Westerville: If you ever come to an Ohio State game with the other Press Pros people I have a box seat for you behind the screen. Love to meet you. It’s long been my opinion that the attendance figures for major league baseball are skewed, based on the average ticket price. And I’m told that corporations are huge buyers of season tickets and distribute them to clients as a business incentive. From your knowledge, is my suspicion true, and if P&G wasn’t buying a lot of tickets would it make a difference?
CRAIG: Thanks for the invite, but I prefer a press box seat to a seat in the stands because press boxes have been my second home (My wife, Nadine, says my first home) for 43 years and I am used to that view. As for attendance and tickets, you are right on. Attendance is based on tickets sold, which is why the Reds can announce that attendance was 16,000 on a cold, miserable day when only 2,000 are actually at the game. And a lot of that is because corporations buy large blocks and season tickets and many of those are not used to attend games. But they count as attendance. If not a single fan showed up for a game, the team would announce attendance as the number of tickets sold.